Nearly every western country has an Israel lobby
Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom recently suggested an inquiry into a surge in Israel’s reported extra-judicial killing of Palestinian demonstrators after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for a harsh response and told his police and soldiers that those opposed to the continued occupation of the West Bank were “terrorists.” Almost immediately, the Israeli government denounced Wallstrom as engaging in “political stupidity,” banning her from travel to Israel, while one newspaper close to the government suggested that she might be assassinated, as fellow Swede Count Folke Bernadotte was by Jewish militants in 1948, because anti-Semitism appears to be in the Swedish DNA.
All of that outrage and personal ridicule is pro forma for an Israeli government that reflexively smears and denigrates any and all critics, but the more interesting epilogue was the unanticipated discovery by the Swedish and international media that Wallstrom has not been paying the full rent on the subsidized government apartment that she occupies. The revelation follows a familiar pattern, where critics of Israel suddenly find themselves being discredited for something completely unrelated to the Middle East. President George H. W. Bush (the good Bush) suffered a similar come to Jesus moment in 1991 when he went on national television to denounce the pressure tactics of the Israel lobby. The Israeli government was demanding U.S. Treasury backed loans to construct illegal settlements. President Bush, who was running for reelection and far ahead in the opinion polls, suddenly was confronted by a well-funded and organized opposition raising doubts about him and his record. And President Bush was not reelected, presumably learning along the way that one does not trifle with the Israel Lobby, to be replaced by the enthusiastically Zionist Bill Clinton.
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is also wondering about Israel’s alleged commitment to peace. On Tuesday he said “it was human nature to react to occupation,” following up with a comment on Wednesday regarding Israel’s “stifling” occupation of Palestine. Netanyahu reacted with his usual over the top rhetoric, stating that Ban “was encouraging terror.” One might also anticipate, as in the case of Wallstrom, a well-orchestrated media blitz questioning Ban’s motives or explaining how he has always been a closet anti-Semite. It is par for the course and fully expected when one criticizes Israel.
Indeed, it is a global phenomenon. Wherever one goes – Western Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United States – there is a well-organized and funded lobby ready, willing and able to go to war to protect Israel. Most of the organizations involved take at least some direction from officials in Tel Aviv. Many of them even cooperate fully with the Israeli government, its parastatal organizations and faux-NGOs like the lawfare center Shurat HaDin. Their goal is to spread propaganda and influence the public in their respective countries of residence to either hew to the line coming out of Tel Aviv or to confuse the narrative and stifle debate when potential Israeli crimes are being discussed.
Israel’s diaspora allies are backed up by a formidable government organized machine that spews out disinformation and muddies the waters whenever critics surface. The Israeli Foreign Ministry has a corps of paid “volunteers” who monitor websites worldwide and take remedial action and there is a similar group working out of the Prime Minister’s office. That is why any negative story appearing in the U.S. about Israel is immediately inundated with pro-Israel comments, many of which make exactly the same coordinated points while exhibiting the same somewhat less than perfect English. On sites like Yahoo they are actually able to suppress unwelcome comments by flooding the site with “Dislike” responses. If a comment receives a large number of dislikes, it is automatically blocked or removed.
The sayanim, local Jews in their countries of residence, are essential to this process, having been alerted by emails from the Israeli Foreign Ministry about what to do and say. The reality is that Israel has lost the war of public opinion based on its own actions, which are becoming more and more repressive and even inhumane and so are difficult to explain. That means that the narrative has to be shifted by Israel’s friends through subterfuge and the corruption of the information process in each country. In some places the key media and political players who are engaged in the process can simply be bought. In other places they can be intimidated or pressured into taking positions that are neither in their own countries’ interests nor morally acceptable. In large countries like the United States, Britain and France a combination of friendly suasion and coercive elements often come together.
In all cases, the objective is the same: to repress or misrepresent any criticism of Israel and to block any initiatives that might be taken that would do damage either to the Israeli economy or to the country’s perceived standing in the world. In some countries Israel’s advocates work right out in the open and are highly successful in implementing policies that often remain largely hidden but that can be discerned as long as one knows what to look for.
Recent Israel Lobby activity in the United States has included legislation at state levels to make illegal divestment from Israel or to promote boycott of Israeli products. A trade pact with Europe will reportedly include language requiring the United States to take retaliatory action if any European country tries to boycott Israel, to include the West Bank settlements, which the empowering legislation regards as part of Israel proper.
Israel is also working to create a mechanism for global censorship of the internet to ban “incitement,” which clearly is a euphemism for material that is critical of its policies. Recently Facebook has begun to delete from its site any “hate speech” and “terrorism” related material but what has not been widely noted is that the apparent restrictions also have involved sites critical of Israel including Christians United for Peace.
Many prominent critics of the American Israel Political Action Committee (AIPAC) are unaware that AIPAC exists in various forms in a number of other countries. BICOM , the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre, is located in London. The French equivalent is the Conseil Representatif des Institutions Juives de France (CRIF). In Canada there is a Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) , in Australia a Zionist Federation of Australia and in New Zealand a Zionist Federation of New Zealand .
While AIPAC is specifically focused on the U.S.-Israel relationship, its counterparts in Europe often deal with a whole range of issues that they define as Jewish, but protecting Israel is always part of their agenda, particularly for those groups that label themselves as Zionist. The political power and financial muscle of the groups gives them access to government far beyond the actual numbers of their supporters. In France this has led to the legislation of hate crimes that de facto exist to protect Jews that have also been interpreted as limitations on one’s ability to criticize Israel. In its most recent test, a French court declared that a peaceful protest promoting Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) directed against Israel was illegal.
Many believe that France now has less free speech than any other European country. Recently, the alleged humor magazine Charlie Hebdo, ran a revolting cartoon showing the little Syrian boy Alan Kurdi who drowned in Turkey last summer as all grown up and sexually assaulting a woman in Germany. There was considerable outrage throughout the world but no sign that the French government will do anything to prosecute the magazines since it was Muslims who were being ridiculed. Charlie Hebdo frequently insults Muslims (and also Christians) but rarely lampoons Jews.
In Britain, Jewish organizations uniquely are allowed to patrol heavily Jewish neighborhoods in police-like uniforms while driving police type vehicles and there have been reports of their threatening Muslims who enter the areas. Prime Minister David Cameron’s government, which is responsive to a Conservative Friends of Israel lobbying group, has also done its part to create official barriers to any spread of the BDS movement. It is proposing legislation that will enable it to overrule decisions by local government councils that seek to cut business or investment ties with Israel and, more particularly, Israeli settlements, under the pretext that such action interferes with the conduct of foreign affairs. The British government is also considering its own brand of hate speech legislation, banning from social media any commentary that is considered to be anti-Semitic, which will almost certainly extend to criticism of Israel.
Canada’s government has also threatened to use hate speech laws to block criticism of Israel and forbid BDS related activity. Australia meanwhile, has ceased referring to east Jerusalem as “occupied” and is apparently leaning towards similar “non-pejorative” language relating to the militarized occupation of the West Bank, preferring the neocon favored dodge “disputed.” New Zealand has proposed Israeli-Palestinian peace talks that specifically demand that participants “refrain from referring a situation… to the International Criminal Court,” which would effectively decriminalize war crimes committed by both sides during the two recent invasions of Gaza. As a United Nations investigation determined that Israel was disproportionately responsible for what did occur, the proposal eliminates accountability and is effectively a get out of jail free card for some Israeli government officials.
And so it goes. Criticize Israel and there will be a comeuppance by virtue of a highly developed international system that relies on government direction as well as volunteer supporters who are able to shape both the media message and the political response. Accepting that as a given, I suppose one should be proud of being called an anti-Semite every time the label is misapplied to stifle dissent, but it all sadly reflects a lowering of the discussion to a dirt level. This might just be because there is no justification for Israeli behavior. The fact is that in terms of systematic human rights violations Israel is something beyond an apartheid state, frequently engaging in open racism and, in the opinion of many observers, crimes against humanity. It is furthermore a persistent source of instability in the Middle East and even beyond.
Israel is a liability to the United States and to the European nations that it has successfully manipulated into acquiescence regarding its bad behavior. When AIPAC and its overseas clones act for Israel the host nations in which these organizations exist should recognize exactly what is taking place. … Full article
After nearly 15 years of Mideast war – with those conflicts growing ever grimmer – you might expect that peace would be a major topic of the 2016 presidential race. Instead, there has been a mix of warmongering bluster from most candidates and some confused mutterings against endless war from a few.
No one, it seems, wants to risk offending Official Washington’s neocon-dominated foreign policy establishment that is ready to castigate any candidate who suggests that there are other strategies – besides more and more “regime changes” – that might extricate the United States from the Middle East quicksand.
Late in Thursday’s Democratic debate – when the topic of war finally came up – former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton continued toeing the neocon line, calling Iran the chief sponsor of terrorism in the world, when that title might objectively go to U.S. “allies,” such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, all of whom have been aiding Sunni jihadists fighting to overthrow Syria’s secular regime.
Israel also has provided help to Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front, which has been battling Syrian troops and Lebanese Hezbollah fighters near the Golan Heights – and Israel’s mistreatment of Palestinians has played a key role in stirring up hatred and violence in the Middle East.
But Clinton has fully bought into the neocon narrative, not especially a surprise since she voted for the Iraq War, pushed the disastrous Libyan “regime change” and has sought a limited U.S. military invasion of Syria (to prevent the Syrian army from securing its border with Turkey and reclaiming territory from jihadists and other rebels).
In Thursday’s debate – coming off her razor-thin victory in the Iowa caucuses – Clinton painted Iran as the big regional threat, putting herself fully in line with the neocon position.
“We have to figure out how to deal with Iran as the principal state sponsor of terrorism in the world,” Clinton said. “They are destabilizing governments in the region. They continue to support Hezbollah and Hamas in Lebanon against Israel. …
“If we were to normalize relations right now [with Iran], we would remove one of the biggest pieces of leverage we have to try to influence and change Iranian behavior. … I believe we have to take this step by step to try to rein in Iranian aggression, their support for terrorism and the other bad behavior that can come back and haunt us.”
Iran, of course, has been a longtime neocon target for “regime change” along with Syria (and before that Iraq). Many neocons were disappointed when President Barack Obama negotiated an agreement to ensure that Iran’s nuclear program remained peaceful (an accord reached after John Kerry replaced Clinton as Secretary of State). The neocons had been hoping that the U.S. military would join Israel in an air war to “bomb-bomb-bomb Iran” — as Sen. John McCain once famously declared.
Yet, there were other distortions in Clinton’s statement. While it’s true that Iran has aided Hezbollah and Hamas in their resistance to Israel, Clinton ignored other factors, such as Israeli acts of aggression against both Lebanon, where Hezbollah emerged as resistance to an Israeli invasion and occupation in the 1980s, and the Palestinians who have faced Israeli oppression for generations.
Silence on the ‘Allies’
In the debate, Clinton also avoided criticism of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey for their military and financial assistance to radical jihadists, including Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front and Al Qaeda’s spinoff, the Islamic State. At the urging of Clinton, the Obama administration also approved military shipments to Syrian rebels who then either turned over or sold U.S. weapons to the extremists.
Iran’s role in Syria has been to help support the internationally recognized government of Bashar al-Assad, whose military remains the principal bulwark protecting Syria’s Christian, Alawite, Shiite and other minorities from possible genocide if Al Qaeda-connected jihadists prevailed.
Clinton also ignored her own role in creating a haven for these terror groups across the Middle East because of her support for the Iraq War and her instigation of the 2011 “regime change” in Libya which created another failed state where Islamic State and various extremists have found a home and started chopping of the heads of “infidels.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who battled Clinton to a virtual tie in Iowa, took a somewhat less belligerent position at Thursday’s debate, repeating his rather naïve idea of having Sunni states lead the fight against Sunni jihadists. On the more reasonable side, he indicated a willingness to work with Russia and other world powers in support of an anti-jihadist coalition.
“It must be Muslim troops on the ground that will destroy ISIS, with the support of a coalition of major powers — U.S., U.K., France, Germany and Russia,” Sanders said. “So our job is to provide them the military equipment that they need; the air support they need; special forces when appropriate. But at the end of the day for a dozen different reasons … the combat on the ground must be done by Muslim troops with our support. We must not get involved in perpetual warfare in the Middle East.”
Sanders continued, “We cannot be the policeman of the world. We are now spending more I believe than the next eight countries on defense. We have got to work in strong coalition with the major powers of the world and with those Muslim countries that are prepared to stand up and take on terrorism. So I would say that the key doctrine of the Sanders administration would be no, we cannot continue to do it alone; we need to work in coalition.”
Sounding Less Hawkish
While Sanders clearly sought to sound less hawkish than Clinton – and did not repeat his earlier talking point about the Saudis and others “getting their hands dirty” – he did not address the reality that many of the Sunni countries that he hopes to enlist in the fight against the jihadists are already engaged – on the side of the jihadists.
Clinton, as she seeks to cut into Sanders’s lead in New Hampshire polls, has been stressing her “progressive” credentials, but many progressive Democrats suspect that Clinton could become a neocon Trojan Horse.
Arch-neocon Robert Kagan, a co-founder of the Project for the New American Century, has praised Clinton’s aggressive foreign policy.
Kagan, who was made an adviser to Clinton’s State Department (while his wife Victoria Nuland received big promotions under Clinton), said in 2014: “If she pursues a policy which we think she will pursue … it’s something that might have been called neocon, but clearly her supporters are not going to call it that; they are going to call it something else.” [For more, see Consortiumnews.com’s “Is Hillary Clinton a Neocon-Lite?”]
Not only did Clinton vote for the Iraq War – and support it until it became a political liability during Campaign 2008 – but she rejoined the neocon/liberal-hawk ranks as President Barack Obama’s Secretary of State. She routinely sided with neocon holdovers, such as Gen. David Petraeus, regarding Mideast wars and Israel’s hardline regime in its hostilities toward the Palestinians and Iran.
In 2011, Clinton pushed for “regime change” in Libya, chortling over Muammar Gaddafi’s torture-murder in October 2011, “We came. We saw. He died.” Since then, Libya has descended into a failed state with the Islamic State and other jihadists claiming more and more territory.
Clinton also favored an outright (though limited) U.S. military invasion of Syria, setting up a “safe zone” or “no-fly zone” that would protect militants fighting to overthrow the secular Assad government. Over and over again, she has adopted positions virtually identical to what the neocons prescribe.
But Sanders, although he opposed the Iraq War, has hesitated to challenge Clinton too directly on foreign policy, apparently fearing to distract from his focus on income inequality and domestic concerns. He apparently has chosen fuzziness on foreign policy as the better part of political valor.
GOP Neocons Score
On the Republican side, the first week of the presidential delegate-selection process saw two candidates who mildly questioned the neocon conventional wisdom face reversals. Billionaire Donald Trump was upset in the Iowa caucuses and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul shut down his flailing campaign.
Trump has noted his opposition to the Iraq War and his willingness to cooperate with Russia in the fight against jihadist terror, while Paul pushed a libertarian-style approach that questioned neocon interventionism but not as aggressively as his father did, apparently hoping to avoid Ron Paul’s marginalization as “an isolationist.”
While Trump and Paul stumbled this week, neocon favorite Marco Rubio surged to a strong third-place finish, catapulting past other establishment candidates who – while largely me-too-ing the neocon orthodoxy on foreign policy – are not as identified with pure neoconservatism as the youthful Florida senator is.
However, even the non-neocons have opted for visceral warmongering. Tea Party favorite and winner of the Republican Iowa caucuses, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, has vowed to “carpet bomb” Islamic State strongholds and promised to see “if sand can glow in the dark,” as he told a Tea Party rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The phrase “glow in the dark” popularly refers to the aftermath of a nuclear bomb detonation.
However, as hardline as Cruz is, he still received a tongue-lashing from the neocon-flagship Washington Post for not doing a “full-neocon” when he suggested that the United States should not focus on “regime change” in Syria. Cruz has worried that overthrowing Assad’s government might pave the way for a victory by the Islamic State and other Sunni jihadist terrorists.
In a Dec. 31, 2015 editorial, the Post’s editors instead hailed neocon favorite Rubio for arguing “forcefully” for Assad’s removal and castigated Cruz for saying Assad’s ouster was “a distraction at best – and might even empower the jihadist.”
A Beloved ‘Group Think’
It is one of Official Washington’s most beloved “group thinks” that Syrian “regime change” – a neocon goal dating back to the 1990s – must take precedence over the possible creation of a military vacuum that could bring the Islamic State and/or Al Qaeda to power.
After all, it won’t be the sons and daughters of well-connected neocons who are sent to invade and occupy Syria to reverse the capture of Damascus by the Islamic State and/or Al Qaeda. So, the Post’s editors, who in 2002-03 told the American people as flat fact that Iraq’s Saddam Hussein was hiding WMD, engaged in similar exaggerations and lies about Assad in demonizing Cruz for his apostasy.
“Mr. Cruz is arguing for a stridently anti-American and nakedly genocidal dictator who sponsored terrorism against U.S. troops in Iraq and serves as a willing puppet of Iran,” the Post wrote.
That is typical of what a politician can expect if he or she deviates from the neocon line, even if you’re someone as belligerent as Cruz. Any apostasy from neocon orthodoxy is treated most harshly.
There is, by the way, no evidence that Assad is “nakedly genocidal” – his largely secular regime has never targeted any specific ethnic or religious group, indeed his government is the principal protector of Christians, Alawites, Shiites and other minorities that have been targeted by Sunni extremists for death.
Nor did Assad sponsor “terrorism against U.S. troops in Iraq.” By definition, terrorism is political violence against civilians, not against a military occupation force. Assad also sought to collaborate with the Bush-43 administration in its “war on terror,” to the point of handling torture assignments from Washington.
But distortions and falsehoods are now the way of the modern Washington Post. The newspaper will say anything, no matter how dishonest or unfair, to advance the neocon cause.
But the most dangerous outcome from these pressures is that they prevent a serious debate about a most serious topic: what the next president must do to bring the costly, bloody and endless wars to an end.
Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).
Was he the great businessman, politician, patriot, and visionary his admirers claim, a man who did more than any other to develop an African continent which in the 19th century was imprisoned behind walls of primitiveness, barbarism, superstition and under-development? Or was he in truth a rampant racist and colonialist, a white supremacist who treated a large swathe of Africa as his personal fiefdom, ruthlessly exploiting its people and resources for personal gain and enrichment?
These are the questions that underpin the contested history not just of Cecil Rhodes but European colonialism and empire in toto.
They are questions that have come to the fore in recent weeks over the campaign by students at Britain’s elite Oxford University to have a statue of Cecil Rhodes removed from the building of one if its colleges – Oriel College, to be precise – on the basis that he was a racist and a colonialist, a slaveholder whose veneration is an insult to the countless millions of Africans who suffered unspeakable exploitation and cruelty under Rhodes in the land he ruled, named after him as Rhodesia, which later became Zimbabwe.
Rhodes and other men like him from across the European continent in the 19th century – colonialists, adventurers, soldiers of fortune, administrators, merchants, etc. – arrived and set about the necessary task of introducing civilization and order to savages who’d only ever known spiritual and cultural desolation. This was their belief and the justification employed to plunder and pillage an entire continent, reducing its people to abject misery and despair while indulging in genocidal brutality and barbarity.
On this basis it is not only the statue of Cecil Rhodes that constitutes an offence to decency and justice. Every second grand statue and monument that litters central London and other British towns and cities are statues and monuments to the brutality of colonialism and empire, dripping in the blood of countless human beings whose only crime was to be born African or Indian or Irish in a period when to be such was to be untermenschen in the eyes of people like Cecil Rhodes and the ruling elites in the societies that produced them.
You would automatically think, then, that a campaign to acknowledge the victims of a man like Rhodes would have no problem in achieving its objectives. Alas, you’d be wrong. For in opposition to the campaign to have the statue removed has come threats from wealthy and not so wealthy members of Oxford University’s alumni to withdraw donations to the university unless the statue stays put.
Rhodes, it should be mentioned, was himself a student at Oxford in the 1870s. Upon his death in 1902 he left money to fund an international scholarship at the university. Among the 8,000 students who have since benefited from a Rhodes scholarship to study at Oxford are Bill Clinton, Bill Bradley, Naomi Wolf, and Rachel Maddow. By this method his legacy has been ‘whitewashed’, along with the history of colonialism he personifies, especially at traditional institutions such as Oxford University, a pillar of the British establishment where a disproportionate number of its political leaders, leading journalists, newspaper editors, and business leaders have been educated.
It’s not only Britain that has this problem of historical legacy, wherein its economic foundations and with them political, cultural, and educational institutions were built on crimes of genocide, slavery, ethnic cleansing, and colonial exploitation. In the United States we have Andrew Carnegie, who rather than exploit Africans and Africa amassed his wealth out of the brutal exploitation of American workers. Yet today Carnegie, a natural born Scotsman, is known as a great philanthropist whose legacy is embodied in the abundance of trusts, endowments, scholarships, colleges, museums, and cultural establishments that are named after him across the world.
Does his philanthropy excuse the barbarity by which he made his fortune? If the workers at the Homestead Steel Mill in Pennsylvania back 1892 could speak to us today about Andrew Carnegie and his legacy, what do you think they would say?
This is why the controversy surrounding the campaign to have Cecil Rhodes’ statue removed from Oxford is so important. It’s about acknowledging the rights of the victims of empire to a semblance of historical justice by refusing to burnish the legacy of men such as Rhodes today. For those who believe that the past belongs in the past and has no bearing on the present or the future, they are hopelessly deluded when we consider the role of Britain and its establishment in the world today. A colonial and empire view of the world continues to underpin British foreign policy, evidenced in its participation in the war on Iraq in 2003, its participation in the destruction of Libya in 2011, its role in destabilizing Syria and the wider Middle East, and its malign role in maintaining Western hegemony as an economic, geopolitical, and military straitjacket, impeding the development of the Global South abroad and upholding the rights of the rich at home in service to a system of injustice sold to us as liberal democracy.
A senior UN official says Israel is now left without an excuse to evade ratifying the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) after a nuclear deal between Iran and the West.
Lassina Zerbo, the executive secretary of the CTBT Organization, said with the implementation of the nuclear deal, Israel’s biggest pretext for refraining from ratifying the CTBT has been taken away.
He made the remarks to a week-long conference marking the 20th anniversary of the treaty being opened for signing in the Austrian capital, Vienna.
The Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty has 196 members but the treaty has not entered into force because it still needs ratification by nuclear-armed signatories such as the US, China, Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea.
Zerbo said Israel is “the closest” of the signatories to ratifying the treaty and assuring the world it will never conduct a nuclear test explosion.
That is because “the biggest threat for Israel is gone and over” after Iran reached a nuclear agreement with the US, Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany in July, he said.
An open secret for decades, the Israeli atomic stockpile is estimated at some 200-400 warheads, though Israel refuses to confirm or deny its existence under a policy of deliberate ambiguity.
Israel is also refusing to sign the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and denying international access to its atomic arsenal.
Zerbo said he is hoping to visit Israel and talk to its leaders although he doesn’t expect immediate results on ratification.
“I think that they’re the ones who can unlock what is stopping the CTBT from moving,” he said.
Zerbo is also hoping to visit Iran, which signed CTBT in 1996, to convince the country to ratify the treaty.
The Islamic Republic says its nuclear program is aimed at generating electricity. The country is an NPT signatory and its nuclear facilities are open to regular UN inspections which have not found any diversion.
Zerbo, however, said if both Iran and Israel signed CTBT, it would “provide momentum — first for Egypt to ratify the CTBT and then to start negotiations for a nuclear test-free zone in the Middle East.”
“You can’t jump and get a weapon-free zone in the Middle East if the CTBT isn’t ratified,” he said.
Israel’s arsenal is the only obstacle to a Middle East free of nuclear weapons because no country possesses a nuclear arsenal in the region other than the Tel Aviv regime.
Zerbo also said China won’t ratify the CTBT before the US, India won’t ratify before China, and Pakistan won’t ratify before India. He also emphasized that US action is crucial in this regard.
He said North Korea is the least likely country to ratify the CTBT.
The UN official said the international community needs to change the way it engages with North Korea.
“What they need at this point in time is… maybe a bit of respect and dignity in the dialogue we have with them.”
Edward Said’s book ORIENTALISM has been profoundly influential in a diverse range of disciplines since its publication in 1978. In this engaging (and lavishly illustrated) interview he talks about the context within which the book was conceived, its main themes and how its original thesis relates to the contemporary understanding of “the Orient.”
Said argues that the Western (especially American) understanding of the Middle East as a place full of villains and terrorists ruled by Islamic fundamentalism produces a deeply distorted image of the diversity and complexity of millions of Arab peoples.
Director: Sut Jhally, 1998.
Britain is at war in Yemen and is arming and facilitating a brutal Saudi dictatorship that is bombing innocent civilians, a growing chorus of critics has warned.
The allegation that Britain is engaged in covert warfare in Yemen was first made by Scottish National Party (SNP) Westminster leader Angus Robertson during a heated discussion in Parliament on Monday. However, it has since been echoed by political commentators and human rights campaigners, who are demanding the government come clean on the role of UK forces in the Saudi-led campaign.
The conflict in Yemen consists of a range of regional, local and international power struggles emanating from historical and recent events. As scrutiny of Britain’s involvement in the war intensifies, campaigners and commentators insist that the UK is intervening in the conflict. They argue that Britain’s arming of the Saudi-led coalition and provision of advice to Saudi military personnel amounts to proxy warfare.
Britain’s arms sales to Saudi Arabia totaled £2.95 billion (US$4.23 billion) for the first nine months of 2015, and roughly £7 billion since Prime Minister David Cameron took office in 2010. Amid mounting concerns that UK-made weapons have been used to bomb schools, hospitals, markets and other civilian targets in Yemen, Cameron has been urged to suspend all arms sales to Saudi Arabia.
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and Shadow Foreign Secretary Hilary Benn sent a letter to the PM on Wednesday demanding transparency on Britain’s involvement, after a leaked version of a UN panel’s report concluded attacks on Yemeni civilians had been “widespread and systemic.”
The 51-page report, which was obtained by the Guardian, examined 199 missions conducted by the Saudi-led coalition that violated international law.
Many of the attacks involved repeated airstrikes on civilian objects, including refugee camps; civilian gatherings such as weddings; civilian vehicles such as buses; residential areas; medical facilities; schools; mosques; markets, factories and essential civilian infrastructure. Three cases of civilians being pursued and shot at by aircraft as they fled residential bombings were also recorded.
UK director of Human Rights Watch said the findings of the UN report “flatly contradict” UK ministers’ rhetoric about the Saudi-led coalition’s actions in Yemen.
“For almost a year, [Foreign Secretary] Philip Hammond has made the false and misleading claim that there is no evidence of law or war violations by the UK’s Saudi ally and other members of the coalition,” he told the Guardian.
Amnesty International UK’s head of policy and government affairs Allan Hogarth expressed disgust at the government’s attempt to downplay concerns over Saudi Arabia’s conduct in Yemen.
“Thousands of civilians have already died and it’s been utterly dismaying to see Downing Street brushing aside extremely serious concerns about the reckless conduct of Saudi Arabia in this devastating conflict,” he said.
Conflict in Yemen
Saudi Arabia revealed earlier this month that British and American forces are stationed in the control center from which military operations against Yemen are being directed. However, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has refused to disclose how many British personnel are involved.
The department also insists Britain’s involvement is confined to advice and training geared at ensuring Saudi Arabia complies with international law.
Yemen’s civil war kicked off in 2014, after Zaidi Shiite-led Houthi rebels overran the capital, Sanaa. The rebels, who had been targeted in six separate wars by Yemen’s central government, were loyal to Yemen’s former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
During the Arab spring in 2011, the Houthis had gained control of Yemen’s Saada province. However, it wasn’t until September 2014 that they conquered Sanaa. The Shiite-led rebels subsequently forced President Hadi to resign in January 2015, and seized control of swaths of southern Yemen.
The following March, a Saudi-led coalition of states launched airstrikes against the Houthis in a bid to retake Yemen. Sometime later, a Saudi-led ground operation also began. By August 2015, the Houthis had been pushed back by resistance fighters supported by the Saudi-led coalition.
As the conflict rolls onward and civilian fatalities continue to mount, criticism of Britain’s role in the Saudi-led military campaign is growing ever stronger.
There is a lot more than meets the eye in the newly revealed Joint Chiefs of Staff intelligence briefing of Sept. 5, 2002, which showed there was a lack of evidence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (WMD) – just as President George W. Bush’s administration was launching its sales job for the Iraq War.
The briefing report and its quick demise amount to an indictment not only of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld but also of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Richard Myers, who is exposed once again as a Rumsfeld patsy who put politics ahead of his responsibility to American soldiers and to the nation as a whole.
In a Jan. 24 report at Politico entitled “What Donald Rumsfeld Knew We Didn’t Know About Iraq,” journalist John Walcott presents a wealth of detail about the JCS intelligence report of Sept. 5, 2002, offering additional corroboration that the Bush administration lied to the American people about the evidence of WMD in Iraq.
The JCS briefing noted, for example: “Our knowledge of the Iraqi (nuclear) weapons program is based largely – perhaps 90% – on analysis of imprecise intelligence.”
Small wonder that the briefing report was dead on arrival in Rumsfeld’s in-box. After all, it proved that the intelligence evidence justifying war was, in Rumsfeldian terms, a “known unknown.” When he received it on Sept. 5 or 6, the Defense Secretary deep-sixed it – but not before sending it on Sept. 9 to Gen. Richard Myers (who he already knew had a copy) with a transparently disingenuous CYA note: “Please take a look at this material as to what we don’t know about WMD. It is big. Thanks.”
Absent was any notation such as “I guess we should tell the White House to call off its pro-war sales campaign based on Iraq possessing WMD since we don’t got the goods.” Without such a direct instruction, Rumsfeld could be sure that Gen. Myers would not take the matter further.
Myers had already proven his “company man” mettle by scotching a legal inquiry that he had just authorized to provide the armed forces with guidance on permitted interrogation techniques. All that it took to ensure a hasty Myers retreat was a verbal slap-down from Rumsfeld’s general counsel, William James Haynes II, as soon as Haynes got wind of the inquiry in November 2002. (More on that below.)
The more interesting story, in my view, is not that Rumsfeld was corrupt (yawn, yawn), but that so was his patsy, Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, the country’s top uniformed military officer at the time. Myers has sported a well-worn coat of blue Teflon up until now.
Even John Walcott, a member of the Knight-Ridder team that did the most responsible pre-Iraq-War reporting, lets the hapless Myers too easily off the hook in writing: “Myers, who knew as well as anyone the significance of the report, did not distribute it beyond his immediate military colleagues and civilian boss, which a former aide said was consistent with the role of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs.”
Principal Military Adviser to the President
That “former aide” is dead wrong on the last point, and this is key. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs works directly for two bosses: the President of the United States, whom he serves as the principal military adviser, and the Secretary of Defense. The JCS Chairman has the statutory authority – indeed, the duty – to seek direct access to the President to advise him in such circumstances, bearing on war or peace.
Indeed, in his 2009 memoir, Eyes on the Horizon, Gen. Myers himself writes, “I was legally obligated to provide the President my best military advice — not the best advice as approved by the Secretary of Defense.”
But in reality, Myers wouldn’t and he didn’t. And that – quite simply – is why Rumsfeld picked him and others like him for leading supporting roles in the Pentagon. And so the Iraq War came – and, with it, catastrophe for the Middle East (with related disorder now spreading into Europe).
Could Gen. Myers have headed off the war had he had the courage to assert his prerogative to go directly to President Bush and tell him the truth? Sad to say, with Bush onboard as an eager “war president” and with Vice President Dick Cheney and Rumsfeld intimidating the timid Secretary of State Colin Powell and with National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice and CIA Director George Tenet fully compliant, it is not likely that Myers could have put the brakes on the rush to invade Iraq simply by appealing to the President.
After all, the JCS briefing coincided with the start of the big sales pitch for the Iraq War based on alarming claims about Iraq possessing WMD and possibly developing a nuclear bomb. As White House chief of staff Andrew Card explained the September timing of the ad campaign, “From a marketing point of view, you don’t introduce new products in August.”
Just three days after the date of the JCS intelligence report depicting the shallowness of the intelligence on the issue of WMD in Iraq, the White House, with the help of The New York Times and other “mainstream media,” launched a major propaganda offensive.
On Sept. 8, 2002, a New York Times front-pager – headlined “US Says Hussein Intensifies Quest for A-Bomb Parts” by Judith Miller and Michael Gordon – got the juggernaut rolling downhill to war. Their piece featured some aluminum tubes that they mistakenly thought could be used only for nuclear centrifuges (when they were actually for conventional artillery). Iraq’s provocative behavior, wrote the Times, has “brought Iraq and the United States to the brink of war.”
Or as NSC Advisor Rice summed it up on the Sunday talk shows later that day, “we don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.”
But it was clear the fix was in even earlier. The British “Downing Street Minutes” of July 23, 2002, show that Tenet told his British counterpart, Richard Dearlove, that – as Dearlove described the message to Prime Minister Tony Blair – that “Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.”
However, despite the obstacles, Richard Myers, like so many of us, took a solemn oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic. For many of us who wore the uniform and took “duty, honor, country” seriously, it is hard to give Myers a get-out-of-jail-free card when it comes to blame for the Iraq War.
No matter the odds against success, his duty was to go directly to the President and make the case. If he was rebuffed, he should have quit and gone public, in my view. (How long has it been since anyone of high rank has quit on principle?)
The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs quitting over plans for an unnecessary war? Not even The New York Times and The Washington Post – as fully in the tank as they were for the Iraq War – would have been able to suppress that story in 2002. And, had Myers gone public he might have succeeded in injecting slippery grease under the rollout of Card’s “new product.”
Imagine what might have happened had Myers gone public at that point. It is all too easy to assume that Bush and Cheney would have gotten their war anyway. But who can tell for sure? Sometimes it takes just one senior official with integrity to spark a hemorrhage of honesty. However the outcome would have turned out at least Myers would been spared the pain of looking into the mirror every morning – and thinking back on what might have been.
A Modern Rumsfeld General
This was not the first time that Myers, who served as JCS chairman from 2001 to 2005, was derelict in duty by playing the toady. He had acquiesced in Bush’s and Rumsfeld’s approval of torture in February 2002, even before going along with a gross violation of international law – launching the attack on Iraq absent any imminent threat and without the required approval by the UN Security Council.
On torture, the seldom mentioned smoking gun was a two-page executive memorandum signed by George W. Bush on Feb. 7, 2002, in which the President declared that Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions did not apply to Al Qaeda and Taliban detainees. Instead, they would be treated “humanely and, to the extent appropriate and consistent with military necessity, in a manner consistent with the principles of Geneva,” the memo said, using vague and permissive language that, in effect, opened the door to torture and other abuses. Gen. Myers was one of eight addressees.
On May 11, 2009 Myers was in Washington peddling his memoir Eyes on the Horizon and spoke at a Harvard Business School Alumni dinner. I seldom go to such affairs, but in this case I was glad I had paid my dues, for here was a unique opportunity to quiz Myers. I began by thanking him for acknowledging in his book “the Geneva Conventions were a fundamental part of our military culture.” Then I asked what he had done when he received Bush’s Feb. 7, 2002 memorandum unilaterally creating exceptions to Geneva.
“Just read my book,” Myers said. I told him I had, and cited a couple of sentences from my copy: “You write that you told a senior Pentagon official, Douglas Feith, ‘I feel very strongly about this. And if Rumsfeld doesn’t defend the Geneva Conventions, I’ll contradict him in front of the President.’ Did you?”
Myers claimed that he had fought the good fight before the President decided. But there was no tinge of regret. The sense the general left with us was this: if the President wanted to bend Geneva out of shape, what was a mere Chairman of the Joint Chiefs to do?
Pushing my luck, I noted that a Senate Armed Services Committee report, “Inquiry Into the Treatment of Detainees in U.S. Custody,” had been issued just two weeks earlier (on April 23, 2009). It found that Myers had abruptly aborted an in-depth legal review of interrogation techniques that all four armed services had urgently requested and that he authorized in the fall of 2002. They were eager to get an authoritative ruling on the lawfulness of various interrogation techniques – some of which were already being used at Guantanamo.
Accordingly, Myers’s legal counsel, Navy Captain Jane Dalton, had directed her staff to initiate a thorough legal and policy review of interrogation techniques. It had just gotten under way in November 2002 when Rumsfeld’s general counsel, William James Haynes II, ordered Myers to stop the review.
Haynes “wanted to keep it much more close-hold,” Dalton told the Senate committee, so she ordered her staff to stop the legal analysis. She testified that this was the only time in her career that she had been asked to stop working on a request that came to her for review.
I asked Gen. Myers why he halted the in-depth legal review. “I stopped the broad review,” Myers replied, “but I asked Dalton to do her personal review and keep me advised.” When Senate committee members asked him about stopping the review, Myers could not remember.
On Nov. 27, 2002, shortly after Haynes told Myers to stop Dalton’s review despite persisting legal concerns in the military services – Haynes sent Rumsfeld a one-page memo recommending that he approve all but three of 18 techniques requested by the interrogators in Guantanamo.
Techniques like stress positions, nudity, exploitation of phobias (like fear of dogs), deprivation of light, and auditory stimuli were all recommended for approval. On Dec. 2, 2002, Rumsfeld signed Haynes’s recommendation, adding a handwritten note referring to the use of stress positions: “I stand for 8-10 hours a day. Why is standing limited to 4 hours?”
A Different JCS Chairman
Other JCS chairmen have not been as compliant as Myers was. For instance, a decade after Myers acceded to Bush’s rush to war in Iraq, JSC Chairman Martin Dempsey smelled a rat when Secretary of State John Kerry – along with neocons, liberal hawks and the mainstream media – rushed toward full-scale war on Syria by pinning the blame on President Bashar al-Assad for the fatal sarin gas attack outside Damascus on Aug. 21, 2013.
Comparisons can be invidious, but Dempsey is bright, principled, and no one’s patsy. It did not take him long to realize that another “regime change” scheme was in play with plans to get the U.S. directly involved in a shooting war with Syria. As more intelligence came in, the sarin attack increasingly looked like a false-flag attack carried out by radical jihadists to draw the U.S. military in on their side.
This new war could have started by syllogism: (a) get President Barack Obama to draw a “red line” against the use of chemical weapons in Syria; (b) stage a chemical attack that would be quickly blamed on Assad for violating the red line; and (c) mousetrapping Obama into making good on his threat of “enormous consequences.”
That Obama pulled back at the last minute was a shock to those who felt sure they had found a way to destroy the Syrian army and clear the way for Assad’s violent removal – even if the result would have been a likely victory for Al Qaeda and/or the Islamic State. After all, neocon/liberal-hawk thinking has long favored “regime change” whatever the consequences, as the wars in Iraq and Libya have demonstrated.
But Gen. Dempsey became a fly in the regime-changers’ ointment. In contrast to Myers, Dempsey apparently saw the need to go directly to the President to head off another unnecessary war. The evidence suggests that this is precisely what he did and that he probably bypassed Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in the process since time was of the essence.
Dempsey had already told Congress that a major attack on Syria should require congressional authorization and he was aware that the “evidence” adduced to implicate the Syrian government was shaky at best. Besides, according to investigative reporter Seymour Hersh, British intelligence told the JCS that they had obtained a sample of the sarin used in the Aug. 21 attack and it did not match the sarin known to be in Syrian army stocks.
Actually, it is no secret that Dempsey helped change President Obama’s mind between when Kerry spoke on the afternoon of Aug. 30, accusing Damascus of responsibility and all but promising an imminent U.S. attack on Syria, and when Obama announced less than a day later that he would not attack but rather would seek authorization from Congress.
On the early afternoon of Aug. 31, Obama was unusually explicit in citing Dempsey as indicating why there was no need to rush into another war. Obama said, “the [JCS] Chairman has indicated to me that our capacity to execute this mission is not time-sensitive: it will be effective tomorrow, next week, or one month from now.”
The failure to stampede Obama and the U.S. military into a bombing campaign against Syria was a major defeat for those who wanted another shot at a Mideast “regime change,” primarily the neocons and their “liberal interventionist” allies who still hold sway inside the State Department as well as Washington’s top think tanks and the mainstream U.S. news media – not to mention the Israelis, Saudis, Turks and others who insist that “Assad must go.”
Not surprisingly, on Sept. 1, 2013, as the plans to bomb, bomb, bomb Syria were shoved into a drawer at the Pentagon, Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham were in high dudgeon – particularly at Dempsey’s audacity in putting the kibosh on their clearly expressed desire to attack Syria post-haste.
(By happenstance, I was given a personal window into the widespread distress over the outbreak of peace, when I found myself sharing a “green room” with some of the most senior neocons at CNN’s main studio in Washington. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “How War on Syria Lost Its Way.”]
Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing ministry of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He served as an Army infantry/intelligence officer in the Sixties and then for 27 years as a CIA analyst. He is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).
While the Washington snowstorm dominated news coverage this week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was operating behind the scenes to rush through the Senate what may be the most massive transfer of power from the Legislative to the Executive branch in our history. The senior Senator from Kentucky is scheming, along with Sen. Lindsey Graham, to bypass normal Senate procedure to fast-track legislation to grant the president the authority to wage unlimited war for as long as he or his successors may wish.
The legislation makes the unconstitutional Iraq War authorization of 2002 look like a walk in the park. It will allow this president and future presidents to wage war against ISIS without restrictions on time, geographic scope, or the use of ground troops. It is a completely open-ended authorization for the president to use the military as he wishes for as long as he (or she) wishes. Even President Obama has expressed concern over how willing Congress is to hand him unlimited power to wage war.
President Obama has already far surpassed even his predecessor, George W. Bush, in taking the country to war without even the fig leaf of an authorization. In 2011 the president invaded Libya, overthrew its government, and oversaw the assassination of its leader, without even bothering to ask for Congressional approval. Instead of impeachment, which he deserved for the disastrous Libya invasion, Congress said nothing. House Republicans only managed to bring the subject up when they thought they might gain political points exploiting the killing of US Ambassador Chris Stevens in Benghazi.
It is becoming more clear that Washington plans to expand its war in the Middle East. Last week the media reported that the US military had taken over an air base in eastern Syria, and Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said that the US would send in the 101st Airborne Division to retake Mosul in Iraq and to attack ISIS headquarters in Raqqa, Syria. Then on Saturday, Vice President Joe Biden said that if the upcoming peace talks in Geneva are not successful, the US is prepared for a massive military intervention in Syria. Such an action would likely place the US military face to face with the Russian military, whose assistance was requested by the Syrian government. In contrast, we must remember that the US military is operating in Syria in violation of international law.
The prospects of such an escalation are not all that far-fetched. At the insistence of Saudi Arabia and with US backing, the representatives of the Syrian opposition at the Geneva peace talks will include members of the Army of Islam, which has fought with al-Qaeda in Syria. Does anyone expect these kinds of people to compromise? Isn’t al-Qaeda supposed to be our enemy?
The purpose of the Legislative branch of our government is to restrict the Executive branch’s power. The Founders understood that an all-powerful king who could wage war at will was the greatest threat to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That is why they created a people’s branch, the Congress, to prevent the emergence of an all-powerful autocrat to drag the country to endless war. Sadly, Congress is surrendering its power to declare war.
Let’s be clear: If Senate Majority Leader McConnell succeeds in passing this open-ended war authorization, the US Constitution will be all but a dead letter.
Most normal people look at the smoldering cemetery that is post-“liberation” Libya, the gruesome graveyard of an almost-“liberated” Syria, the 14 year slow-motion failed regime change in Afghanistan, blood-drenched Iraq, and they are horrified. Washington Post’s neocon nag Jennifer Rubin looks across that bloody landscape and sees a beautiful work in progress.
She writes today in the online edition of the Post that despite what we might be hearing from some “libertarian/populist pols masquerading as conservatives,” the interventionist enterprise is chugging along just fine. Democracy promotion at the barrel of a gun is every American’s “white man’s burden” whether he likes it or not.
Never mind that Syria has been nearly leveled by almost five years of an Islamist insurgency that was but a few weeks from success when Russia stopped it in its tracks. The real villain is the secular Bashar al-Assad, writes Rubin. After all, he “is partnered with Iran and spurs support for Islamist rebels…”
Assad “spur[s] support for Islamist rebels” by waging war on them for six years? Or does she somehow deny that Assad is fighting the insurgents who seek to drive him from power? Both cannot be true.
And on Planet Rubin, funding, training, and arming Islamist rebels, as the US and its allies have done, can in no way be seen as spurring them on.
“It has become fashionable in some circles to pooh-pooh support for democracy,” Rubin moans. Not so fast, she says. This is not a failed project. Her evidence? From all the countries destabilized by US democracy promotion schemes there is “one encouraging success story” — Tunisia!
Yes, after the destruction and killing in places like Egypt, Libya, Syria, Iraq, and the rest, it is the great success in little Tunisia that makes it all worthwhile!
Unfortunately for Rubin, even her little Tunisian success story looks to have an unhappy ending. As reported by BBC News, unrest is spreading throughout Tunisia as demonstrators are clashing with police. Tunisians are in far worse economic shape now than before the US-backed “Arab Spring” brought them their “liberation.” One-third of young people are unemployed in post-liberation Tunisia and 62 percent of recent college graduates cannot find work.
“We have been waiting for things to get better for five years and nothing has happened,” Yassine Kahlaoui, a 30-year-old jobseeker, told the AP as reported by the BBC.
Here is the ugly truth that regime change enthusiasts like Rubin will never admit: it is very easy to destabilize and destroy a country from abroad in the name of “promoting democracy,” but those recipients of America’s largesse in this area soon find that it is all but impossible to return a country to even pre-“liberation” economic levels. They are left missing their “dictator.”
What does Rubin care: she doesn’t have to live in these hellholes she helps create.
The US and Britain, the former colonizing power in the region, have always seen Iraq as a threat because it has the potential to be a great regional independent power in its own right, says political analyst Dan Glazebrook.
The president of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region Massoud Barzani has said the time has come to redraw the Middle East’s boundaries.
RT: The President of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish north urged world leaders to help pave the way for a Kurdish state. Will they receive that support?
Dan Glazebrook: It all depends on how the so-called great powers react. And I suspect that the US will respond with kind of diplomatic niceties, diplomatic platitudes. They don’t commit themselves to anything, but kind of have the effect of egging and spurring on the demands for the breakup of Iraq. There is this idea for the breakup of Iraq that has been flirting around in US military for some time now. The thing about Iraq from the point of view of the US and Britain, the former colonizing power in the region, is that they have always seen Iraq as a threat because it has the great potential to be a great regional independent power in its own right. It is the only Arab country that really has all four prerequisites for being a strong independent power: it has got a large sizable population, so it can have a large army, unlike, say, Saudi Arabia; it has got oil resources obviously, unlike, say, Egypt – another big populist Arab country; and it has got plenty of arable land and plenty of water. They’ve always seen it as a threat and for decades they’ve used every means available in the book to get it to fight against its neighbors, arming it in the battle against Iran in the 1980’s, invading it twice now… This is just the next step in trying to dismember the country and prevent it of ever being a unified, powerful, independent player…
Turkey, which is very close to the Iraqi-Kurdish government, has been doing a lot of illegal oil trading with the Iraqi-Kurdish government there. Obviously it has its own worries about demand for independence from its own Kurds and from the Syrian Kurds. I suspect there will be no independent state actually recognized internationally. But Turkey, US, Britain will kind of make these noises to egg them on and spur them on to continue with a divide and ruin strategy that they are employing against Iraq and other countries in the region.
Dan Glazebrook is a freelance political writer who has written for RT, Counterpunch, Z magazine, the Morning Star, the Guardian, the New Statesman, the Independent and Middle East Eye, amongst others. His first book “Divide and Ruin: The West’s Imperial Strategy in an Age of Crisis” was published by Liberation Media in October 2013. It featured a collection of articles written from 2009 onwards examining the links between economic collapse, the rise of the BRICS, war on Libya and Syria and ‘austerity’. He is currently researching a book on US-British use of sectarian death squads against independent states and movements from Northern Ireland and Central America in the 1970s and 80s to the Middle East and Africa today.
France says the state of emergency put in place in Paris after last November’s deadly terror attacks by Daesh will be extended until the world could totally get rid of the Takfiri terror group.
Prime Minister Manuel Valls said in an interview with BBC Europe that France would seek to keep the state of emergency in place until the end of what he called the “global war” against Daesh terrorists.
“As long as the threat is there, we must use all the means,” he said, adding the state of emergency should stay in place “until we can get rid of Daesh.”
The French premier also called for a “total, global and ruthless” war against Daesh, which has swathes of land under control in Iraq and Syria since June 2014.
The state of emergency was imposed assailants struck at least six different venues in and around Paris on November 13, 2015. The terrorist attacks, claimed by Daesh, left 130 people dead and over 350 others wounded.
The exceptional measures adopted under the state of emergency empower the French police to keep people in their homes without trial, searching houses without judicial approval and blocking suspicious websites.
The new measures also include a ban on public demonstrations and allow authorities to dissolve groups inciting any acts that seriously affect public order in France.
UN rights specialists have called on the French government not to extend the state of emergency beyond February 2016 and instead ensure protection against any abuse of power while combating terror.
A number of French nationals are fighting alongside terror groups in Syria.
Refugee crisis in Europe
Valls warned that the European Union faces a grave danger from the ongoing refugee crisis.
He said the EU could not take all refugees fleeing the “terrible wars in Iraq or Syria. otherwise,” he added, “our societies will be totally destabilized.”
Europe has been facing an unprecedented inflow of refugees fleeing wars and violence in Africa and the Middle East, particularly Syria.
According to Valls, Europe needed to take urgent action to control its external borders, emphasizing that “if Europe is not capable of protecting its own borders, it’s the very idea of Europe that will be questioned.”
“We cannot say or accept that all refugees … can be welcomed in Europe, “ Valls noted, criticizing German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who called for her European partners to take on quotas of refugees.
He also said the EU needs to say in the strongest terms “that we will not welcome all the refugees in Europe.”
Last year, more than one million asylum seekers – the most since World War II – arrived in the European continent after making dangerous journeys by land and sea.
Everyday, about 2,000 refugees arrive in the European Union, according to official numbers.
The lead, Western warmaking/regime-change countries intervening in northern Iraq and Syria held a strategy conference of their ministers of war in Paris on January 20. The meeting made waves in Canada because Ottawa was not invited to attend.
The meeting of ministers of the United States, Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Australia and the Netherlands discussed ongoing plans for intervention in Syria and Iraq. Canada is fully engaged in that intervention, more so than some of the other countries attending in Paris. For example, neither Italy or Germany have fighter aircraft engaged in bombings. But Canada was not invited to the party because Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made a promise during the national election campaign of October 19, 2015 that, if elected, his government would withdraw its six fighter-bomber jets from the U.S.-led warmaking alliance and instead focus on ground operations, including training of allied Iraqi and Kurdish forces.
The decision not to invite Canada was likely taken by U.S. Secretary of Defense (sic) Ashton Carter. Never mind that the new Trudeau government is not keeping its electoral promise or that, to the contrary, it has promised to step up its military presence in northern Iraq. No, for the U.S. government, any deviation from its lead in the imperialist war agenda is punishable by shunning.
The U.S. views the Canadian electoral promise as a weak-kneed sop. It cares not a whiff about the war-weary Canadian public, repelled by Canada’s failed military intervention in Afghanistan. That intervention goes back to late 2001. 158 Canadian soldiers died in combat in Afghanistan. At least 59 of those who served have killed themselves upon their return, while, shamefully, the previous Conservative government in Ottawa did all it could to reduce to a minimum disability payments to injured, returned soldiers.
The U.S. snub is intended as a warning to the Trudeau government just in case any of its members are actually considering keeping their election promise. It needn’t worry, there is no evidence that any are doing so. Also, importantly, the snub is serving as a rallying cry for pro-war ideologues in Canada who never liked the election promise in the first place and now want it definitively buried.
The enclosed opinion article in the Globe and Mail is exactly the kind of knee-jerk, pro-war backlash that the U.S. government wanted to foment. The writer, David Bercuson, is a well-known military academic in Canada. He directs his criticisms not at the United States government for snubbing its loyal ally but at the Trudeau government for giving the U.S. a reason to do so.
Bercuson wrote a commentary last month in the Globe saying that Prime Minister Trudeau was asking for trouble with his allies by making flaky election promises over war and intervention in the Middle East.
Columnist Thomas Walkom of the Toronto Star, Canada’s largest circulation newspaper, provides a different view of the snub in a January 18 column. He calls it a “welcome snub”. He says, “Trudeau’s Liberals won power on a pledge to end Canada’s combat mission in Iraq and Syria — in the air and on the ground. If they are serious about this, why should we expect the Americans to include Ottawa in their combat deliberations?
“More to the point, why should we want to be included?”
Ottawa is lucky to have carte blanche, more or less, in working out the subtleties of its desired intervention in Iraq and Syria. The two large opposition parties in Parliament support military intervention in the Middle East, differing only on how that should be done. Meanwhile, antiwar forces are weak and marginalized. Years of confusion over the regime change agenda of the imperialist countries in the in Africa and the Middle East (Mali, Libya, Egypt, Syria) combined now with utter disarray in the face of the anti-Russia drive of NATO have left antiwar forces marginalized.